Worrying About Money

Posted: February 28th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Do you? Worry about money, I mean.

I’ll confess that I do. I really try not to, but it’s an ongoing battle. It’s become harder recently since I was laid off in November. I got a month of severance pay and received my last paycheck on December 31st.

A few days ago, I was reading in Mark 12 where Jesus is asked about the greatest commandment. He said, “…you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.”

Part of loving God is loving Him with our minds.

This morning, I read Exodus 34:14, “You must worship no other gods, for the Lord, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you.”

Ponder that for a minute. His name is Jealous and He is jealous. About what? His relationship with you and me.

As I was praying, I watched as two birds landed on a light pole outside the window of my hotel. They kept looking up to the sky. It reminded me of Matthew 6…

24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Several things hit me from that passage:

1. We can’t love and serve God and money. We have to choose.

2. I’m to be like the birds outside my window who weren’t worried about anything. They weren’t planting or harvesting. They didn’t even seem to mind the freezing drizzle.

3. Material needs “dominate the thoughts of unbelievers…”

So let me see if I can tie all this together…

The greatest commandment is to love God, which includes loving Him with my thoughts. He is jealous for me. He doesn’t want me to have any other gods before Him. I have to choose between loving and serving God or loving and serving money. And money and material needs dominate the thoughts of those who don’t know God.

So if my thoughts are dominated by thoughts about money, how can I also be loving God with my mind? Practically speaking, it’s like I’m denying He even exists when I worry. Why? Because He promises if I’ll seek first His Kingdom and live as He desires, He’ll meet my material needs.

How about you? Do you worry about money? Or about something else?

God is jealous for the attention you and I give to these other gods who can never satisfy us anyway. When we choose to take our focus off money and put it on Him, it’s one way that we can express our love for Him.

On the other hand, when we choose to worry, it’s like believing God cares more about birds and flowers than about us.


Lent

Posted: February 15th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

I Believe God small 187x300 Lent

Whether you observe the season of Lent or not, I want to make a resource available to you. It’s a 40-day devotional written to help strengthen your faith. Circumstances, feelings, discouraging news and negative comments from others can sap our faith. It can start to feel like God is far away and unconcerned about what we’re going through.

“I Believe God: a 40-day adventure” will help you reject the lies we’re told by the enemy and the world and replace them with the truth of God’s word. If you’d like a copy, you can get one by clicking here. The suggested price is $1.99, but I have it set up so you can name your own price. If you want to pay nothing, you can do that.

I know sometimes Lent is viewed as a season “to give something up.” So let’s give up believing our feelings and circumstances and start believing God.


The Person I Didn’t Expect to Meet in College

Posted: February 4th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Screen Shot 2015 02 04 at 2.16.40 PM 300x167 The Person I Didnt Expect to Meet in College

I grew up in Brick, New Jersey, a beach town about ninety minutes south of New York City and ninety minutes east of Philadelphia. It was a great place to live. I had great friends and loved my high school experience.

What I didn’t love so much was church. At best, it was boring and irrelevant. For me, the best part was watching the old people try to park. It’s not that I didn’t believe God existed. I just didn’t think He had very much to do with my daily life.

We attended church fairly regularly as long as my parents woke up on time. I did my best to remain as quiet as possible on Sunday mornings, hoping they’d oversleep. Sometimes it worked and I got to stay home.

After high school, I went away to college at Cornell University. The first thing I did was stop going to church. I just didn’t see the point any more. And my parents weren’t there to make me go.

Some time during the fall semester after practice one night, a guy spoke to the football team I played on. I don’t remember anything he said other than if we wanted a free “Athlete’s In Action” magazine we could sign up for one. So I did.

A few months later, this guy named Bruce gave me a call. He wanted to meet with me. So thirty-three years ago today on February 4, 1982, he and I got together at the student union (that’s it in the picture). He asked me questions about my life, my family and church. After awhile, he opened this magazine and started talking about God.

Basically what he told me was this: God loved me and had a plan for my life, but because I (along with everyone else) had sinned, I was separated from God and couldn’t experience His plan for me. Then he got to the good news. He said when Jesus died on the cross, He was being punished in my place.

There was one more thing he said to me: I had to make a decision. It wasn’t just enough to know those other things. I had to decide whether or not to place my trust in Jesus. Forgiveness for my sin was a gift, but I had to choose to receive it.

In all my years of attending church, I’d never heard that before. I believed in God. I knew Christmas was a celebration of Jesus’ birth. I knew Easter was about his death and resurrection. But I don’t ever remember hearing I had to actually decide what to do with Jesus. In that moment though in the student union, it was like the light came on.

Bruce explained I could practically express my faith in Jesus by praying, by asking Him to forgive my sin and to make me the person He wanted me to be. There was a prayer written out in the magazine, which he slid across the table to me.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t fully grasp the magnitude of what was happening, but as I looked down at that magazine, I knew what I was about to do was really important. And so I read the words to the prayer very slowly and thought about each word. When I was done, Bruce and I talked a little more and set up another time to meet.

As I walked back to my dorm that day, I knew something was different. Something inside me was changed. I actually remember the sky being more blue. And the craziest part was actually having the desire to read the Bible and attend church.

I met a lot of people in college. Just never expected to meet Jesus there.

“But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” (John 1:12-13)


Does God Test Us?

Posted: January 31st, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

In Mark 6, a huge crowd has been following Jesus. It’s now late in the afternoon. His disciples come to Jesus and tell Him to send the people away so they can buy food at the nearby farms and villages.

Instead of doing that though, Jesus says, “You feed them.”

Naturally, the disciples ask, “With what?”

That would be my question. Some of us with an attitude might have said, “Seriously? Seriously, Jesus? Are you for real? Come on, there are thousands of people here.”

Jesus simply replies by asking, “How much bread do you have? Go and find out.”

When the disciples return, they report to Jesus they have five loaves of bread and two fish. So Jesus has everyone sit down in groups, He blesses the food and gives it to the disciples to distribute. There was so much food left over they filled twelve baskets. Mark tells us over five thousand men and their families were fed.

I don’t know how much time has passed, but in Mark 8 there’s another large crowd gathered around Jesus. This time, the disciples don’t approach Jesus with the problem, He calls them and says, “I feel sorry for these people. They have been here with me for three days, and they have nothing left to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will faint along the way. For some of them have come a long distance.”

I would have loved to be there to watch that scene play out. The circumstances are identical to last time. Large crowd. No food. What do we do?

It’s playing out like when a parent is helping a young child with homework. “Okay, let’s try it again. Two plus two equals…”

But the child isn’t quite catching on yet.

“Now think about it for second, if I have two apples and then I add two more…how many apples do I have?”

The parent stares hopefully at the child. The child stares cluelessly at the parent. The answer is so obvious. But still the child isn’t getting it. Like the disciples. Like you and me.

His disciples replied, “How are we supposed to find enough food to feed them out here in the wilderness?”

Apparently, they don’t remember how things worked the last time. Not one of the twelve thinks to say, “Hey Jesus, You don’t have to send them away hungry! I have an idea! Do that thing You did last time! Remember? Remember that time You made all that extra bread and fish? Just do that again.”

I don’t know about you, but I can’t be too hard on the disciples. I don’t remember things God does either. It’s like I’m Lucy in “50 First Dates.” God may have done something great for me yesterday or last week, but I don’t remember it. All I can see is the unmet need today and so I get worried and anxious.

If it was a test, the disciples didn’t do so well. They didn’t remember what Jesus had done in the past, so they didn’t see He could be counted on in the present.

As He did the previous time, Jesus asks, “How much bread do you have?”

This time they come up with seven loaves of bread and a few small fish. And as He’d done the last time, Jesus multiplies what they have and feeds the entire crowd of four thousand people. The disciples gather the leftovers and fill seven baskets this time.

Faith is a big deal to God. He wants to be trusted. He’s pleased by our faith. So don’t be surprised when tests come. Don’t get discouraged when the circumstances seem stacked against you and there’s no way out. God has been faithful in your past. He will be faithful in your present.

And He will be faithful in your future.


Prayer for a Breakthrough

Posted: January 30th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

I don’t want to suffer. I know you don’t either.

We want good health for ourselves and those we love. We want to always have enough money to pay the bills with some left over. We want our relationships, especially with family members, to bring us joy and satisfaction. We want to be successful in our work. And we want our neighborhood, our city, our country and our world to be a safe place to live. And when we pray about something, we want God to answer. Sooner than later.

Does that pretty well capture what we want?

I’ll be honest. I don’t want to walk by faith. I don’t. A few days ago, I wrote a post on this site about seeking and trusting God. And really, that’s what this blog has been about for the past seven years. But if I’m honest, I have to admit I don’t really want to be in a position to have to trust God.

I want all of my needs met today, not tomorrow. I don’t even want to know how things will work out in the future, because that implies they’re not worked out today. And that makes me uncomfortable. And I don’t want to be uncomfortable. I know you don’t either.

That’s just not reality though. It’s not the way life works. It’s not the way God works.

James 1:2-4 says:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

James is cluing us in to how life really works. And it’s contrary to the way we want it to work. It’s contrary to the way the world system tells us it should work. It’s even contrary to the way some Christians tell us life should work. We’re told that if we just have enough faith then we’ll have all the money we want and we’ll be healed of every sickness.

That’s not true though. My good friend died from colon cancer last year. He had great faith.

James doesn’t say “if” troubles come our way, he says “when” they do, we’re to consider it an opportunity for great joy. Yeah, I wish it didn’t work that way either, but it does.

We’re to consider troubles to be joy because we know that when our faith is tested, our endurance grows. When our endurance is fully developed, we enter into a new dimension of relationship with God where we discover He’s all we need, that in Him, we lack nothing.

When we pray for “breakthroughs”, I think what we’re really praying for is a quick way out of our troubles. At least that’s what I’m doing. It sounds something like this: “Oh God, please help me! I need a breakthrough today!” We want an end to the suffering today, don’t we? Have you ever prayed for a breakthrough to come in six months? Me either.

Maybe the better prayer is not for a breakthrough, but a go-through: “Oh God, give me the wisdom and strength to go through these troubles. Increase my faith. Help my endurance grow. Help me see I need You more than I need comfortable and pleasant circumstances.”

(If you’re married, you might be interested in my latest post at GreggStutts.com)


What Does God Want Me to Do?

Posted: January 26th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

I know what I want to do.

You know what you want to do.

But what does God want us to do?

Is there a certain person He wants you to marry? Is there a specific job He wants you to have? Does He have the perfect house picked out for you? Does it matter to Him if you live in Florida instead of Ohio? Should you just get a job now or go to graduate school?

We really want to know the answer to questions like these. We don’t want to make a mistake that will effect the rest of our lives. So we want God to just tell us what to do.

But have you noticed He’s usually not in a great hurry to tell us? We ask God to reveal His will to us and then we wait…and wait…and wait. We might wait for weeks, months or even years. Maybe you’re in one of the seasons of waiting right now. You desperately want to know what to do, but the waiting continues.

So now what are you supposed to do?

I think it’ll help to peak behind the curtain and understand what God wants even more than simply telling us what to do.

In Mark 6, Jesus has returned to His home town. On the Sabbath, He goes to the synagogue and begins to teach. Mark tells us that “many who heard him were amazed.” So far so good.

Then they asked, “Where did He get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?”

After they asked where He got His wisdom and power, it says:

Then they scoffed, “He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon. And His sisters live right here among us.”

Somehow, their amazement turned to questioning, which turned to scoffing. But it doesn’t end there. Mark tells us: “They were deeply offended and refused to believe in Him.”

Mark tells us that because of their unbelief, Jesus “couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place His hands on a few sick people and heal them. And He was amazed at their unbelief.”

Things really went downhill quickly, didn’t they? Amazement turned to questioning which turned to scoffing which turned to being offended which turned to refusing to believe.

I get it though. I’ve been there. I’ve behaved like that. When God didn’t come through for me the way I wanted Him to or when I wanted Him to, I found it easy to question Him. And then to privately scoff and become offended. I doubted His goodness and faithfulness. I became angry and discouraged. And then I refused to believe.

You’ve no doubt already noticed that God isn’t in a hurry to answer all of your questions and just to make your life more comfortable.

So why not? Why doesn’t God just tell us what He wants us to do? Why doesn’t He make things easier? And quicker?

I believe the answer is found in Hebrews 11:6. It’s my favorite verse in the Bible.

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

What does God want you to do?

He wants you to trust Him and seek Him. Not just for an answer to prayer or for something you want from Him. He wants you to seek Him to know Him better, because you love Him.

I know how hard it is to wait and trust. I’m in one of those seasons myself right now. If you are too, let’s not waste the opportunity we have to seek and trust God and to wait patiently for Him to reveal His next steps for us. Let’s not forget this good news:

“He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.”


How to Believe God

Posted: January 21st, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Since I know many of you read these posts by email, you probably haven’t been to my actual blog site in awhile. If you are on the site right now, you’ll see that the sub-title to this blog is, “A continuing journey…”

And that’s what believing God is for me. A continuing journey. Some days I do better than others. Some hours I do better than others. Some minutes too. Maybe you find like I do that one minute you feel sure and confident in God’s promises and the next minute you feel like He doesn’t even understand what you’re going through.

What it really boils down to are my thoughts. My thoughts determine my feelings. They dictate how I respond to other people, to God and to life.

When I believe what’s true, I experience peace and joy regardless of what’s happening around me. When I believe what I see around me, I easily become anxious, worried and fearful.

My mind must be in a constant state of renewal. Otherwise, I will always default back to believing what I see, not what God says is true. That’s why there’s no substitute for regularly being in God’s word. In it, He reveals Himself, His purposes and His ways. He shows me what He’s like and what’s important to Him. He encourages me, corrects me and instructs me.

Several years ago, I put together an eBook called, “I Believe God: a 40-day adventure.” It’s meant to be used as a daily devotional to help you focus on what God says is true and enlarge your capacity to believe Him. If you’d like a copy, you can get it by clicking here. It’s available in multiple formats, so it’s easy to read on whatever device you have. The suggested price is 99 cents, but I’ve set it up so you can set your own price. You can even make it free if you want.

In addition to my mind being renewed, the other critical element to believing God is having the encouragement of others. There’s no way to make it alone. And not only do you and I need others, they need us, too. I know there have been times when I’ve been talking with a friend and I hear myself speaking truth. Sometimes hearing my own words reminds me I really believe what I’m saying.

So if you want to believe God in a greater way, let me suggest you grab a friend and go through the 40-day devotional together. Talk, text or email each other daily to encourage and pray for each other. Choose to intentionally believe God together for forty days and see what happens.

If you do it, I’d love to hear from you. You can email me here.


Do You Make This Serious Error?

Posted: January 19th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

In Mark 12, some religious folks have come to Jesus to try and trap Him. These guys didn’t believe there was a resurrection. When you’re dead, that’s it, they said. No afterlife. So they come to Jesus with a question they think will trip him up.

They present this hypothetical situation where a woman gets married, but before she has a child, her husband dies. The law stated that the man’s brother should marry the woman, so the family name could be carried on. So she marries the brother. Well, before a child is born to the second brother, he also dies. And so does the third. And the fourth. And so on until all seven brothers are dead.

These religious leaders then ask Jesus this question: “Whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For all seven were married to her.”

With that big set-up, I figure these guys had to be thinking, “Oh boy, we’ve got him now! There’s no way he can talk his way out of this one!”

Jesus replies with these words: “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God.” He then goes on to explain how it is they’re wrong. And then He ends by saying, “You have made a serious error.”

I wonder if Jesus would say something similar to you and me. Like when we’re feeling anxious or worried. Or afraid. Or when we’re feeling angry or bitter or jealous or resentful. Or when we’re feeling discouraged and are losing hope.

Here’s what I do to get myself in trouble…

I see my circumstances. I analyze the situation. I can’t figure out how to fix whatever problem I’m facing. And so I get anxious. Then I usually analyze some more. But I still can’t fix the problem, so the worry and anxiety get stronger. Then fear creeps in. And if I let the process continue, I’ll sometimes end up with a migraine.

I don’t know if you’re like me, but praying doesn’t always help. And I think I know why. My prayers are usually so focused on the circumstances that I don’t allow God room to even get involved. I keep rehearsing the situation with Him over and over.

If I would listen more, I wonder if what I’d hear him say is: “Whoa! Gregg! Slow down a minute. Let me say something. Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know My power. Why don’t you dig into my Word and find out what I’ve already promised you and then believe Me?”

Could that be your mistake, too? Could you be too focused on what you see rather than what God says?

What circumstances are you facing today that are causing you to feel discouraged or worried or overwhelmed or angry?

Now do you know what God says about your circumstances? If not, then maybe your mistake is the same one I often make. We’ve forgotten what God has already revealed in His Word and we’ve forgotten His power.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is 2 Peter 1:3-4, “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.”

God has (past tense!) given us everything (not just some things) we need for living a godly life. He has also given us great and precious promises that enable us to be more like Him. The religious leaders who came to Jesus had made a serious error because they didn’t know His power or the Scriptures.

You and I don’t have to make the same mistake.

Read on for a free offer…

If you’re married and would like a free copy of my latest book, “The Intimate Evening Planning Guide,” I’m offering it for free this week on Amazon. Click here to get your copy. This offer is good until Friday, January 23, 2015. If you like it, I’d really appreciate it if you left a review on Amazon. Also feel free to let your friends know.

One other thought related to marriage…if you feel like you and your spouse have drifted apart and no longer feel connected or if you’re “just stuck” and are having trouble moving forward in your relationship, let me encourage you to take advantage of my marriage coaching process. You can learn more by clicking here.

The Intimate Evening Planning Guide 231x300 Do You Make This Serious Error?


Where is God When You Need Him?

Posted: January 8th, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Have you ever wondered where God was when you needed him?

I have.

In some dark moments, I’ve raged at Him, “Where are You, God?! Why won’t You do something?! Can’t You see?!”

It can feel like just when we need God the most…He doesn’t show. We desperately cry out for help…but we’re met with silence. A day stretches to a week which stretches to a month which stretches to a year…and longer. And still we wonder where He is and why He’s not helping us.

Last time, we looked at Joseph and how he ended up in prison for years. For a crime he didn’t commit. And yet there’s never any mention of Joseph becoming angry or depressed. We never see him losing hope and giving up.

So what’s going on? How was Joseph able to persevere through a lengthy prison term without becoming angry at his brothers (for selling him as a slave) or at God?

Genesis 39:21 says, “But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him His faithful love. And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden.” The last part of verse 23 says, “The Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed.”

The same was true of his time as the manager of Potiphar’s  house before he was thrown in prison. Genesis 39:2 says, “The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did…”

Let’s stop here for a minute and consider a couple things. First, Joseph was experiencing God in the midst of circumstances he would never have chosen. No one wants to be betrayed by family members. No one wants to be sold as a slave and taken to a foreign land. No one wants to be falsely accused. No one wants to be wrongfully imprisoned.

When we find ourselves in a situation we don’t like, it doesn’t mean God isn’t with us or actively at work. Maybe God is most at work when our circumstances are the least desirable.

Second, success may not always look like we want it to. Joseph was a successful slave. He was a successful prisoner. I don’t want to be a slave or a prisoner. When I’m in hard circumstances, I want God to change them. Right away. And yet God was at work in and through and for Joseph regardless of the circumstances.

Eventually, after years of imprisonment, Joseph is let out because he’s able to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams. Rather, God reveals to Joseph what the dreams mean and Joseph relays the meanings to Pharaoh. God has warned Pharaoh that a seven-year famine is coming. Pharaoh responds by putting Joseph in charge of the entire nation of Egypt. Joseph makes sure the people stockpile grain so they can survive.

After the plentiful years, the famine hits, not just in Egypt, but in the whole region. Including the land of Canaan where Jacob and his family are living. To make a long story short, Jacob, his family and his descendents are saved because they’re able to buy food from Joseph and eventually move to Egypt to live there.

In Genesis 50:18, Joseph says to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”

During the years as a slave or the years he spent in prison, Joseph couldn’t see what God was up to. Surely, there had to be times he was wondering where God was when he needed Him the most. It was only in hindsight that he could see how God had used his brothers selling him as a slave, Potiphar’s wife falsely accusing him of rape and meeting Pharaoh’s chief cupbearer while in prison to accomplish His greater purposes.

Your current circumstances may not make any sense to you.  You may feel like God has forgotten you.

But He hasn’t.

He’s at work where you are, even if you can’t see it or sense His presence. Trust Him. Don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. He is at work in you, around you and for you.


When the Waiting Doesn’t End

Posted: January 1st, 2015 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

DSCN1111 300x225 When the Waiting Doesnt EndWhat are you waiting for?

A spouse?

A baby?

A job?

A restored relationship with a child?

Results of a medical test?

Healing?

There’s nothing easy about waiting. Especially when it feels unfair. When the waiting wasn’t brought on by anything you did or didn’t do.

Do you remember the story of Joseph, Jacob’s youngest son? He was Jacob’s favorite son and that made his eleven older brothers jealous. Of course, Joseph didn’t help himself by telling his brothers about the dreams he had about them bowing down to him. Joseph may have lacked diplomacy, but most teenagers do.

When his brothers see an opportunity to get rid of Joseph, they take it. They sell him to some traders on their way to Egypt. Once in Egypt, they sell him to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials. God is with Joseph causing everything he touches to prosper. It’s not long before Potiphar puts everything in his household under Joseph’s leadership.

Meanwhile, his brothers report to their father that Joseph was killed by some kind of wild animal. They even take Joseph’s coat and dip it in some blood, so Jacob will be convinced. Nice guys, his brothers.

Joseph is not only a capable leader, he’s a good looking guy, which catches the attention of Potiphar’s wife. She is constantly after him to sleep with her. And Joseph is constant in his refusals. One day when they’re alone together, she again demands he sleep with her. When he tries to leave, she grabs his cloak, which he leaves behind. She’s had enough of his rejection, so she falsely accuses him of trying to rape her. Potiphar is furious and has Joseph thrown into prison.

And there he languishes. Innocent. Falsely accused. Unfairly imprisoned.

The head of the prison gives Joseph some responsibility and soon everything under his leadership is going well because God is still with him. Still though, Joseph is a slave, in prison, in a country not his own, for something he didn’t do.

After some time has passed, a couple of Pharaoh’s officials end up in prison with Joseph. They each have a dream one night and God reveals the meanings to Joseph. When one of the officials is released from prison, as Joseph had predicted, he returns to his service to Pharaoh. Genesis 40 ends with this sentence, “The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.”

Waiting is hard, but isn’t it even harder when you’re waiting and you get a glimmer of hope, when it feels like God is about to change your circumstances, when He’s about to come through…and then nothing happens? You thought your spouse was changing, but then reverts back to former behavior. The interview went so well, but there’s no call back. You were sure the next test would show you were getting better, but it doesn’t.

There’s no mention of Joseph losing hope or becoming bitter, but it had to be a struggle for him. Yes, God was with him, but he was just a regular guy. Like you and me. And like us, he had to choose to believe God, not his circumstances, especially because there wasn’t an immediate change for Joseph. Chapter 41 begins this way, “When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream…”

Joseph has already been in prison for some time. And now two more years pass.

That’s a long time to wait. And not see an end in sight.

Maybe you can relate. You’ve been waiting and hoping and praying. And there’s no end in sight to your waiting.

Next time, we’ll take a look at what was happening that Joseph couldn’t see. We’ll see how God’s unseen hand was at work. For now, know that God sees you. He knows what you’re going through. He knows your pain and your fears. He knows your frustrations and discouragement.

He has not forgotten you. His peace and joy are available regardless of your circumstances, difficult people, unmet needs and unfulfilled dreams.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)